Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008's Winners, Losers and Others

As the title sums up nicely the column’s theme, I’ll forgo the snarky summary that generally preface year-end reviews and just cut to the chase.


Barack Obama: Even if the Illinois Senator had lost the general election, the folks at Time Magazine would’ve still anointed him their Person of the Year, not without some merit. Obama’s historic nomination wasn’t a cakewalk, having wrestled it from the politically ferocious Clintons after an exhausting battle that started on January 3rd in the Iowa caucuses and did not conclude until South Dakota and Montana’s June 3rd primaries. And in retrospect, it seems that beating Hillary was the hard part. Yes he did.

Joe Biden: The senior US Senator from the tri-county state of Delaware entered 2008 hoping that at best he would close the year out as the incoming Secretary of State. That is assuming he was not suffering from delusions of grandeur. Biden’s 2008 bid for his party’s nomination was declared DOA within 100 hours of the New Year’s ball being dropped at Times Square, which seems pretty bad until considering his White House bid from 20 years earlier didn’t even make it to the election year. Yet Obama looked past Biden’s past and made the gaffe-prone politician his running-mate, which says something about the president-elect…in a good way. Here’s to at least four more years of “Stand Up Chuck!”

Sarah Palin: Sure she was on the losing-end of a Democratic landslide and had to endure the most concerted media assault since Richard Nixon was getting kicked around. Did I mention having to endure her teenage daughter’s personal life get splashed across the cover of tabloids, most notoriously on OK! magazine, which ironically in the same month had a glowing spread of the seemingly wholesome Obama family. But the Alaskan governor weathered the worst of it, emerging from pre-convention obscurity and post-election backstabbing as one of the GOP’s most powerful and popular figures. Palin’s tour through Georgia turned out the Republican base in US Senator Saxby Chambliss’s big runoff victory, proving that the backbiting by McCain staffers did little to diminish her considerable standing with the Republican faithful. If she seeks it, Palin will be the candidate to beat for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.

Joseph Cao: A little over a year ago, Cao came in a distant fifth place for state representative (for the record, I ran a close third in that same race). A few months later, the Saigon-native was soundly defeated as a candidate for delegate to the state GOP convention. After securing a spot as a delegate to the Republican National Convention, Cao was forced to evacuate his family via a straight drive to the Minnesota convention. Though Gustav spared most of the people who had lost much in Katrina three years prior, Cao was not in that group as his New Orleans East home flooded again. Yet the same storm that put water into his living room would help put him in Congress with the additional assistance of financing from Uptown New Orleans Republican donors (not so much from the RNC thank you very much Chairman Duncan) and a lot of Obama voters that thought ending the embarrassment of Bill Jefferson was more important than party affiliation, ideology or race.

Mary Landrieu: Despite facing what on paper should have been her toughest opponent for US Senate, Landrieu won by her biggest margin ever despite having to share ballot space with her party’s not so popular presidential nominee, at least in Louisiana. Because of Louisiana’s conservative voting tendencies, Landrieu is going to have to probably fight off another tough challenge in 2014. But to quote Hyman Roth from Godfather II, “This is the business we chose”.

Howard Dean: And you all laughed when he was picked to head the Democratic National Committee after the 2004 Republican triumph. I knew better. His leadership of the Democratic governor’s campaign arm produced his party’s lone instance of forward progress in 2002. He who screams last, scream loudest. YEEEEEAAAAGGGHHH!!!

Bobby Jindal: His “rockstar” status in the party is only eclipsed by Palin’s though the Louisiana governor possesses more broad appeal. Though he didn’t speak at the Republican National Convention, the nation got a more favorable glimpse of Jindal on the job while Louisiana was threatened by two major storms in September. By spurning McCain’s veep advances and vetoing the radioactive legislative payraise, Jindal secured himself on the homefront while keeping his national options open. If Jindal and Palin both sought the Republican nomination in 2012, the race would quickly devolve into a duel effectively freezing out the rest of the competition, much like what Clinton and Obama did to Biden, Richardson, John Edwards and Chris Dodd.


Hillary Clinton: She had to eat an enormous campaign debt and contributed very little towards Obama’s re-election. For a former First Lady and a Clinton, Secretary of State must seem like a pretty meager consolation prize, after all it’s not like she’s Bill Richardson or John Kerry. Had Hillary won the Democratic nomination, she would’ve beaten McCain in a rout. Now she’ll pass her days at Foggy Bottom replaying in her mind the events that caused her to miss out on what was perhaps her only chance of being president.

RNC Chairman Mike Duncan: In his mind, presiding over the national GOP during the party’s worst electoral disaster since Watergate does not make one a loser. Letting the national committee make it official by bothering to stand for re-election in January will.

Bill Jefferson: The indicted soon-be-former congressman eluded political defeat at the hands of Karen Carter in 2006, watched another serious rival, Derrick Shepherd, get sent to jail and held off six challengers in his successful bid for renomination in 2008. Only to suffer the supreme humiliation of being beaten by an Asian Republican in an overwhelmingly black majority congressional district. For “Dollar Bill”, it’s likely that the worse has yet to come.

The Gambit Weekly: Two words: no endorsement. That was the position of that newspaper on the eve of the Second District Congressional general election between Jefferson, Cao and two minor party candidates. Now the thing about the closed primary is that there are no runoffs once the party primaries are concluded, meaning no matter how many candidates run, that election is the end of the line. You must make a choice. The Gambit Weekly, which prides itself as a progressive, good government-oriented publication, chose to stick its head in the ground refusing to get behind the indicted congressman or his lone credible opponent, who just so happened to be a Republican. Why might you ask? Because he was endorsed by the Family Research Council. OK…
Oh, but the FRC, a social conservative group that backs most pro-life candidates, is headed by former State Representative Tony Perkins. Ahhhh. Um. Why is this important? Because Perkins, while working for another candidate for federal office in 1996, once paid David Duke money for a mailing list. And what does this “Kevin Bacon Political Logic” have to do with defeating fore re-election an individual whose tenure in office hampers our region’s post-Katrina recovery effort and tells the rest of America that never mind what Bobby Jindal is telling you, Louisiana still has a long way to go in changing our corrupt imagine. In short, the Gambit Weekly tried to play Harry Lee by depressing turnout amongst its white liberal readers. We should be grateful that they have more of a big picture outlook of the world than its publishers.


David Vitter: After enduring what had to be the worst year of his life, Vitter has rebounded by emerging as a leading critic of unpopular federal bailouts of the banking system and the auto industry. John Kennedy’s defeat for US Senate makes Vitter less expendable in the eyes of the national GOP, likely translating into substantial early support to fend off any prospective intra-party challengers. In a Machiavellian way, McCain’s defeat was also helpful, especially since Vitter, an early supporter of Rudy Giuliani, can get more political mileage from running against the Obama Administration than with a McCain presidency he would’ve had major philosophical problems accommodating, particularly on immigration. Proof that the political crapshooter’s luck might hold out: the Democrat talking the most about running against Vitter is former Governor Kathleen Blanco. Ironically, the only downside from 2008 for Vitter is ironically the election of Cao in the Second District. Cao’s re-election effort will further divvy-up Republican resources while driving up Democratic turnout on a day that Vitter doesn’t need a lot of votes coming out of Orleans Parish.

George W. Bush: He’s less popular than new Coke and academics have judged his administration as worse than Nixon’s, but the Texan will amble out of office on January 20th becoming the first president to survive the “Tecumseh Curse” physically unscathed. Bush is doubtlessly aware of how Harry Truman left office strongly disliked though the passage of time led to his presidency to be reconsidered in a more favorable light. Though his critics have consistently labeled the president a mental midget, the Yale-Harvard grad proved he was smart enough to win two terms.

John N. Kennedy: Now 0-4 in elections for offices not titled “Treasurer”, Kennedy must make a decision in late 2010: does he remain chained to a radiator on the Third Floor of the State Capitol or does he gun for something else. Even if he doesn’t succeed in his next campaign, the Vandy-UVA-Oxford grad could make a killing in the private sector.

John McCain: Much like the Arizonan that preceded him as GOP nominee forty-four years before, actually winning the presidency never seemed to be a priority for McCain. His nomination and, most importantly, defeat at the hands of Obama assures McCain of nothing less than footnote status in the history books. McCain’s connection with the Keating 5 is now largely forgotten beneath an impressive bio of military service and a legacy of decrying earmarks, admonishing his fellow Republicans for saying anything that offends the other party, passing campaign finance reform and for being the leading advocate for finishing the job in Iraq.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Saints 2008: Close But No Cigar...Postseason...or Record

The ticket to the game served as the omen of things to come.
Though I am a season ticket holder, I had to pick up one off the streets for the Carolina game as I had traded my Carolina game ticket for an extra Oakland ticket figuring then that the last game would not matter in the grand scheme of things. Never mind for the moment how prescient that thought was back in October.
While walking to the Superdome, I glanced at the ticket and saw the scowling face of one Sean Payton printed on the scalped admittance to a mid-row set in the Terrace level.
Right then and there I had a feeling that the Saints were not going to finish 9-7, and thus giving the competitive NFC South a division in which every team had a winning record, nor would Drew Brees surpass Dan Marino’s record for passing yards.
The team missed out by 2 points from sweeping their division rivals at home. Number 9 would just miss out on making history, and perhaps his best argument for MVP, by a measly 16 yards.
Had the Saints managed to win an additional two games, they’d be in the playoffs as a wild card. And there’s no shortage of coulda, woulda, shoulda losses to pick from as the team lost six of their eight games by five points or less.
Despite a running-back controversy…scratch that…a head coach that has arbitrarily caused a running back controversy by not playing the Crescent City’s most popular “cripple” (please note the thick sarcasm in my reference the proven “handicapable” Deuce McAllister), the Saints’ offense have racked up the most points and yards in the NFL. But even possessing the league’s most prolific offense is a gilded distinction: submerged deep beneath the Saints’ glittering top passing/receiving stats is the team’s 26th ranked rush.
Bad clock management from lack of a reliable running game and the brick walls the team literally ran into on those infamous 3rds and one plagued them throughout the season. And unfortunately the Saints are like the GOP: they just don’t know how to win the close ones.
The Saints would have probably won the Chicago game in over-time had the coin flip went in the black and gold’s favor; but there’s the difference in winning a game and being a winning team.
Even had they did win two more games, the Saints should not have expected to go far in the post-season if their defense is so porous that every game turns into sudden death matches. That was so disturbing in the London win against San Diego: sure the Saints came out at top but it was almost entirely due to their offense’s ability to keep up by scoring repeatedly. Whatever hopes I had of the Saints making the playoffs ended at Wembley Stadium.
As the Denver-San Diego season finale is being played as I write this, the Saints have the 23rd ranked defense in yards allowed and 22nd in sacks. I’ve witnessed the spectacle of the likes of Jeff Garcia resemble Michael Vick against the Saints defense. Opposing quarterbacks have had plenty of time to throw the ball, which has strained and added to the embarrassment of the Saints’ secondary.
Our well-paid defensive ends, when not hurt or under suspension (see 2009 season), are not earning the high salaries they whined about deserving. Will Smith and Charles Grant have combined for a grand total of six sacks, which is free-agent Bobby McCray’s individual total. The team defense is 29th in forced fumbles.
The Saints enter yet another post-season trying to plug up a leaky defense while also having to make a critical decision about the running game: will Deuce McAllister return? Judging by Payton’s sparing use of him, even in situations where McAllister was unquestionably the best player for a particular down, it seems that number Twenty-Six is being eased out.
I had mixed emotions about Brees’s chase of the Marino milestone. Part of me wanted to see a member of the black and gold enter the record books while making the season finale count for something. Yet another part of me was resentful of Brees’s statistical feat, coming at the expense of a neglected running game.
By having an imbalanced offense that could not compensate for a broken defense, the Saints finished the 2008 season with a “balanced” record of 8-8.
That Brees’ had just barely missed making his mark in NFL history was a fitting way to end a disappointing season thanks to Saints letting six games slip through their fingers.
Unless Payton commits to running the ball more and the front office aggressively retools the defense with our lone first day draft pick (thanks to stockpiling in an area that didn’t need it) and free agency, the Who Dat faithful will have to endure yet another year of break-even “Haslett Ball”.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Final Holiday at Al's Place

The above picture was taken by Eric Miller in front of the Metairie home of the late founder of Popeyes Chicken, Al Copeland, who lived a life that was even flashier than his annual Christmas display. For many years, Mr. Copeland lavishly decorated his house during Christmas, to the chagrin of some area residents who complained about the increased vehicular and foot traffic the display brought to the neighborhood. Mr. Copeland went to court to defend his Christmas decorations, which included both secular Christmas characters and a large Nativity scene.

A trip to Mr. Copeland's house to see Santa Claus and gaze at the elaborate light display and animatronics was a Christmas season staple for many area children over the past three decades. The only figure that could compete with Mr. Copeland when it came to being identified with Christmas in New Orleans was Mr. Bingle.

With Mr. Copeland's passing in March, this will be the final Christmas the southshore mansion will be illuminated, as the Copeland family donated the equipment to the local government, which will display the restaurateur's electric Christmas legacy at Lafreniere Park.

Monday, December 22, 2008

New Orleans Saints' 2009 Opponents Set

With the Seattle victory over Green Bay and the St. Louis loss....to somebody...not worth me logging on to NFL.com for that bit of info...the New Orleans Saints' 2009 opponents are set. The actual dates will not be revealed by the league until May in order to maximize high-interest match-ups throughout the season and to milk such an announcement for every cent of advertising revenue they can get their grubby little hands on.


The Usual NFC South Divisional Suspects: Atlanta, Carolina and Tampa Bay
NFC East (based upon the divisonal rotation): New York Giants and Dallas
AFC East (see the above): New England and New York Jets
NFC North (based upon intra-conference divisional rotation and comparative ranking of the team, which will be the last place team as the Saints finished last in their division weeks ago):
Detroit Lions


The Usual NFC South Divisional Suspects: Atlanta, Carolina and Tampa Bay
NFC East (based upon the divisional rotation): Washington and Philadelphia (bring the kevlar)
AFC East (ditteaux): Miami and Buffalo (please let this be a September game at Ralph Wilson)
NFC North (the only game that had not been known going into last weekend): St. Louis Rams

Mercifully, we will not be going to Soldier Field for a regular season game for at least two years, though exhibitions, playoff appearances and/or divisional ranking with the intra-conference rotation could land the Saints there as early as 2010, assuming the league keeps its current logical schedule system and division set up in place.

Festivus 2008: Airing Grievances and Celebrating "Miracles'

Happy Festivus!
It was on December 18th in the one-thousandth nine hundred ninety-seventh Year of Our Lord that a writer for Seinfeld introduced through the curmudgeon prophet Frank Costanza this fascinating celebration that is observed on the eve of Christmas Eve.
And seeing how the post office, internet search engines and the media pay such great lip service to a holiday invented by a convicted felon (Google Paul Mulshine for Ron Karenga’s background), why not do something to celebrate a creation by someone who never went to prison for assault and kidnapping.
So in the true spirit of Festivus, here is an omnibus of catcalls against people who have angered me over the past year in the realms of sports, politics and entertainment with a smattering of kind words at the bottom
Try to imagine Jerry Stiller’s voice while reading the ritual Airing of Grievances

“John McCain, you are the lousiest candidate the Republican Party has nominated since Dewey didn’t beat Truman” Where do I begin? And how long do I choose to go before I end? Taking the matching funds. Throwing a conniption fit over the financial crisis instead of coming off presidential. Tossing his running mate to the wolves, with some of those beasts being of the Republican variety. While the GOP is a trainwreck, we at least deserved a nominee who was going to try to win. Please quit talking. Go to the back of the Senate and quietly, if that’s possible, try to outlast Dick Lugar for President Pro-Tempore. It’ll be the closest you’ll ever get to the Oval Office.

“Barry Obama, just who the hell do you think you are?” Not even a full term in the US Senate and you think you are prepared to be president because you can make legions of bleeding heart liberals weep with joy? Talk about audacity! When Lloyd Bentsen tried to do the same thing in 1976, Washington reporter Jules Whitcover called his campaign “an exercise in supreme egoism.” From January 21st forward, it’s all on you. I hope your powers of bringing people to instant euphoria works on the likes of Kim Jong-Il and Vlad Putin. No wonder Fidel Castro is starting to feel more spry these days.

“Jennifer Aniston, Shut Up and Strip!” And I thought Phoebe was supposed to be the dumb one. The former Friends star has lamented the lack of privacy she has in her life due to the “Enquiring minds” of bored housewives, legal secretaries that spend too much time on TMZ.com and Perez Hilton. Aniston then proceeds to pose for the cover of GQ magazine wearing nothing but a tie and a smile. Somehow, the woman with the GPS coordinates of the Southwest Airlines hubs on her right shoulder seems normal and sane.

“I Got a Lot of Problems with You Sean Payton!” I think George Costanza could run the Saints better than Napoleon Dynamo. Payton’s sideline tantrums are the stuff of “Iron” Mike Sharpe. His double-reversal plays, the stuff that comes from the mind of a chicken that doesn’t play tic-tac-toe well. His refusal to run the ball, the stuff of that same chicken after it visited Popeyes. Instead of checking into Deuce McAllister’s vitamins, the NFL needs to scour the Quebec gambling establishments to see if Payton has money on Drew Brees breaking Dan Marino’s passing record. Otherwise, the Saints coach’s unbalanced play-calling makes no sense.

“A Sophomoric Vote by Freshmen Legislators” I can’t believe you people fell for it. A bunch of termed out legislators conned you all into voting for a pay raise that goes into effect immediately. They get a fattened retirement; you get the boot. Be on guard for John Alario working the aisles during capital outlay time while holding a burlap sack with the words “Magic Seeds” printed on it.

“31,317 Racists, Idiots, Crooks and Relatives of Bill Jefferson” I don’t care what the demographics are; I don’t care how many registered Democrats live there, that Jefferson was ousted by a margin that was less than 3% is in itself an indictment against the community. Diogenes would have a tough time in the Louisiana’s Second District.

Now gather round yon aluminum Festivus pole and toast the following Festivus miracles:

33,132 voters in the Louisiana’s Second District acted to “end the embarrassment” and “stopped $ Bill”.

Minnesota Federal Judge Paul Magnuson issued an injunction blocking temporarily the NFL suspensions of players that tested positive for StarCaps. McAllister was able to surpass the 6,000 career yards rushing milestone in Detroit and added another touchdown to his franchise record.

In the same game, the Saints ended their pitiful losing streak against 0-7 teams. The New Orleans franchise is now a terrible 1-6 against the league’s bottom-feeders.

Free drinks at a Bobby Jindal function. I’ve attended numerous Jindal rallies and victory parties, yet no matter how prolific his fundraising was during a campaign, all of them had cash bars. A Christmas party I recently attended a Christmas Party the governor hosted that finally ended the “dry streak”.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Fate Too Cruel for Blago?

Sure Illinois has the nation's leading scumbag as governor but on a recent visit to Ed Debevic's, a popular diner in Chicago, my eye caught an image of Blagojevich on the eatery's wall of fame positioned next to a magazine cover featuring none other than David Schwimmer.
It's one thing if US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerlad wants to hurl Blago into the Phantom Zone but for the greasey spoon to group the arrested executive with television's uberwuss is just cruel.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Rise of "Spiro" Palin

It seems the only presidential candidates that treated their running mates with any class were Gerry Ford, Ronald Reagan, Mike Dukakis and George W. Bush.
Recent political history is rife of examples of running mates who willingly tethered their names and political fortunes to presidential candidates, both of the successful and unsuccessful variety, only to have their loyalty and trust repaid with treachery and obstruction in their own presidential campaigns later.
Richard Nixon spent more time and effort plotting against Spiro Agnew than anyone whose name that ever appeared on his now celebrated enemies list. Hubert Humphrey ran against his 1968 running mate in the 1972 primaries. George McGovern stood behind Tom Eagleton 1000% up until he threw him under the bus. Visitors at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Center would have a tough time finding Walter Mondale’s name anywhere in the museum aside from a campaign poster. George W.H. Bush didn’t interfere as his closest advisors waged a scorched earth leak-campaign against Dan Quayle. Al Gore, after having to pay politically for the sins of Bill Clinton, came out against his own running in the next election. Ditto Kerry.
And you can now add John McCain’s name to the list of people who reaffirm Harry S. Truman’s cynical adage about friends in politics.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that the 2008 Republican presidential candidate quietly stood by as his own people savaged Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s credibility in the days going into the general election and was reluctant to intervene after the fact, McCain, on ABC’s This Week answered a question about whether he would support Palin in 2012 by touting the credentials of potential rivals for the GOP nomination.
While an early endorsement should not have been expected, the dismissive manner in which McCain replied to the inquiry was nothing short of yelling “wham, bam thank you m’am” to a woman who was subjected to most intense political teardowns in American political history in the course of trying to help McCain achieve his presidential dreams.
Fortunately for Governor Palin, McCain has about as much credibility within the party as the Zimbabwean Dollar does in the world of finance.
Palin’s selection as running mate was the unarguable high-water point of the McCain effort. Enthusiasm for the GOP ticket shot through the rough and led to the Republican National Convention gaining more viewers than the Democrats’ despite the fact the latter was carried on more media outlets while the former had to compete against the kickoff of the NFL’s regular season.
US Senator Saxby Chambliss, an early supporter of McCain’s and by no means a grassroots conservative, credited his big re-election margin in no small part to the energy Palin brought to his runoff effort.
Casting an eye towards 2012, Palin in many ways is in the same situation Agnew was after the Republican ticket’s landslide victory in 1972.
Agnew, who was also detested by the media and loathed by the political establishment, was beloved by the party base and was the favorite to win the GOP presidential nomination in 1976. Even Ronald Reagan could not have stopped him. But Agnew’s past (and it turned out his present as well) torpedoed his future.
The reason why Palin is so popular with the Republican hoi polloi is because she is more like us than any candidate that has been nominated for national office in decades. She’s not polished, not Washingtonian, not of Mayflower lineage, not Ivy League, not eastern seaboard. That’s why the Georgetown crowd treats Palin’s ascension to a spot on the national ticket as if she had won a raffle, having not earned it by being born to the right family or intellectually prepared by the right university. Having contempt for Palin was almost trendy in Democratic and Republican circles despite the fact she had more governmental executive experience than McCain, Obama and Biden together.
Palin’s most egregious sin is that she’s common. Though that is not a bad thing for a party that paid a high price for being perceived as out of touch.
The Republican nomination in 2012 will be Palin’s to lose if she seeks it, with the Alaskan benefiting from 100% name recognition, Obama-like fundraising potential from a horde of small dollar donors and a sizable backlash vote from the Huckabucks, social conservatives upset about the poor treatment she received from both the liberal mainstream and the pro-Romney conservative media.
Republican Palin-haters would be wise to either warm up to her folksy speaking style or continue to allow their haughtiness trump their adherence to capitalistic principles.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Giving Thanks Louisiana Ain't Illinois

CHICAGO- I know this is going to shock some people but back in my incorrigible younger years I spent more time outside the principal’s office than her secretary.
Sitting there I would sometimes wonder what it was like to be the kid who was on the opposite end, passing through the administration office and taking note of the student slouching in an office chair as the principal was filling out the detention slip.
That day finally came when I had to leave early due to illness. As I waited for my grandfather to arrive to take me to the doctor, two upper classmen were hauled in to the principal’s office for fighting. Despite not feeling well due to a virus, the flu or Pac-Man Fever, I couldn’t help but harbor some joy in that someone other than me was in that familiar yet unenviable spot.
Having finally grown sick of its well-earned bad political reputation, voters across Louisiana chose to make a break from its past after Katrina exposed the results of decades of government corruption and ineptitude. Now Louisianans are snickering a little as Illinois fills the government scandal vacuum left when voters in the Bayou State decided to move forward.
Electing Bobby Jindal was the start, though there was more work to be done, particularly in New Orleans. Yet the Crescent City, the most ethically challenged part of the state, has made some great strides as of late.
New Orleans currently has its most reform-oriented council since Chep
Morrison’s heyday; a competent, a workaholic District Attorney committed to aggressively fighting crime was recently elected; and a new School Board is about to take office that isn’t beholden to political machines and special interests that often trumped in importance the interests of the school children.
In what should be considered the greatest leap forward to date, a plurality of chronic voters succeeded in turning out indicted Congressman William Jefferson and replacing him with a former seminarian.
Anh Cao’s victory proved to be the mulligan that erases much of the shame from the 2006 elections when the Second Congressional District electorate returned Jefferson to Congress despite the FBI raid that netted $90,000 in marked bribe money from his freezer.
Within days of Republican Cao’s historic victory, the FBI arrested Illinois’ Democratic governor Rod Blagojevich for attempting to sell the US Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
In addition to making Louisiana’s current political leadership look good by comparison, Illinois’ Blagojevich (soon to be renamed Inmate No. 56784-09) is somewhat relevant to how the Cao-Jefferson story begins and how it will likely conclude.
First it should be noted that like those locals who participated in the 2006 2nd District runoff, Illinois voters didn’t seem to be prioritizing political integrity when they re-elected Blagojevich despite being plagued by allegations of bribe-taking and hiring fraud and the indictment of his fundraiser Tony Rezko for trying to secure kickbacks from companies looking to do business with the state.
Blagojevich, whose approval rating was well below 50% for much of his first
term, won a second by over 10 points. Jefferson’s margin over fellow Democrat Karen Carter was evening bigger.
Both the voters of Louisiana’s Second District and the state of Illinois knew what they had in their incumbents yet gave them another term just the same in 2006. The difference between the poor judgment exercised by Illinois voters and New Orleans voters was just enough of the latter righted in 2008 the mistake from two years prior.
Secondly, you might recall the name Michael Patrick Flanagan, which I dropped a few times in the past when making the case that Republican Cao could defy the steep odds of winning a staunchly Democratic district. Flanagan had pulled off a similar upset for a congressional seat in Chicago against powerful House Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski.
Unfortunately the Flanagan story does not have a happy ending for neither the first-term GOP congressman nor the state of Illinois as the voters in his district reverted to their solid Democratic tendencies only two years later, throwing out Flanagan a 28-points. The victor in that race was none other than Blagojevich.
And so a Democratic stronghold replaced a crooked Democrat with a Republican reform candidate and then immediately ditched him just because of his party affiliation trading “up” for a Democrat that proved to be far worse than the one they bounced in the first place.
Will Louisiana’s Second District follow Illinois’ Fifth District by swapping Cao out with the New Orleans Democratic politician that had enough machine support to earn the right to face the Republican in the 2010 general election?
Almost certainly.
But until history runs its winding yet inevitable course, Louisianans can temporarily gloat that at least we’re not Illinois.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Skin da Bears

There are Saints billboards around town that asks “How deep does your fan go?”
Well how does one answer that question?
By being a season ticket holder and staying till the end of games no matter how painful Sean Payton makes them with his Wyle E. Coyote-like play calls?
By having a “Saints Go Marching In” ringtone on your cell?
By having a closet full of clothes from the Black and Gold store?
I’m going to answer how deep my fan goes with the numbers 3 and 15.
Three is the number of trips to Soldier Field I will have made to see the Saints play and fifteen is what the temperature is going to feel like up in the nose-freeze section.
In today’s Times Picayune Sports section, Chicago is called a cruel place for the New Orleans franchise as the team lost two playoff games in the unfriendly confines of Soldier Field.
Chicago is even a worse place for Saints fans.
I remember hearing stories locals that went up for the 1991 NFC Wild Card game being pelted with snowballs loaded with batteries and having urine thrown on them. When I ventured up there for the NFC Championship in 2007, I was greeted by a Chicagoon sporting an elaborate sandwich board sign that read “Bears Finishing What Katrina Started”. Why anyone would callously mock a disaster that wrecked tens of thousands of people’s lives and led to hundreds of drowning and dehydration deaths is beyond comprehension.
I’m as passionate as one gets about the Saints and I engage in my fair share of smack talk (though half the time it’s directed toward my home team’s coach) but I wouldn’t wish on anyone what I personally experienced let alone others who lost far more than irreplaceable family memorabilia and consumer goods.
The NFC Championship game also marked the only time I have ever left a Saints game early, and it wasn’t just because of the one-sided 4th quarter score.
People in my section were getting rowdy beyond hurling catcalls; one young drunk in front of me, in between screaming within mere inches of my face that it was too bad I didn’t drown in Katrina, was trying to summon up the will to graduate from delivering verbal blows to physical ones.
At that point I knew how the Saints’ season was going to end and had a good idea how my trip to the Windy City was going to conclude. The game wasn’t worth the beat down. And it certainly wouldn’t have been worth the arrest after two-dozen spectators in blue and orange attire claim I threw the first punch because I couldn’t handle what was nothing more than good-natured ribbing. Right?
As I began my trudge from Soldier Field I was interviewed by a New Orleans television reporter about how I was treated in the stadium. My story wasn’t unique as other Saints fans that had gathered around had the same thing to say. As if taking our word for it wasn’t enough, an inebriated Bears fan stumbled towards the reporter, hurled a beer and a certain word that set the black reporter chasing after the drunk.
At that point I told myself I would never set foot in Chicago. I later reconsidered that decision. I wasn’t letting Chicagoons keep me supporting my team. And Chicago is one of America’s great cities and one of my favorite places to eat.
So I went back for the 2007 finale, a game that had no real meaning except for the loser receiving a better draft pick, which the Bears handed the Saints despite the outstanding game undrafted running back Pierre Thomas had, becoming the team’s first player to rack up over 100 yards running and receiving.
The Chicagoons were still hell, though not as bad as they were earlier that year, though drowning cracks were still en vogue. Maybe things were mellower because neither team was in the playoff hunt at that point. Or perhaps the locals had two less hours of pre-game drinking (the NFC Championship game was played at 2 PM, the regular season rematch was at noon).
The Thursday night game will feature two teams fighting to stay alive in the playoff hunt. The loser will be eliminated from post-season play.
A Saints win would even out the overall regular season record with the Bears, which currently stands at 11-12, one of club’s better records against a franchise. To put it in perspective, the Saints would have to sweep Atlanta in the next four seasons to even the team’s overall record with the Dirty Birds.
For me, the game is personal. It’s not just about avenging the game that would have sent the Black and Gold to the Super Bowl, but the way legions of Saints fans were assaulted verbally and otherwise at the NFC Championship. In the minds of not just a few members of the Who Dat nation, the Bears game is the most important of the season.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Closed Primary and the Cashing Out of Dollar Bill

Anh Cao’s unlikely election to Congress from the black-majority Second District was made possible due to the perfect alignment of an obscure legislative act, a hurricane (not the one you’re thinking of) and a slew of indictments against incumbent US Representative Bill Jefferson.
Louisiana’s return to the closed primary for federal races would be relevant for Cao in four ways: 1) it allowed for three elections (party primary, party primary runoff if needed and the general election) instead of the maximum of two under the open primary (primary and runoff only if a candidate failed to attain a majority); 2) the timing established for the primary and runoff was set for the peak of hurricane season in Louisiana; 3) registered Republicans would be barred from voting until the general election; 4) federal candidates in a general election only need to win a plurality in the general election not a majority.
The main reason why Louisiana adopted the open primary back in the seventies had to do with Governor Edwin Edwards’s self-serving attempt to deny Republican candidates a strategic advantage over their Democratic opponents in general elections.
Since Republican registration in Louisiana was miniscule back the in seventies (and is currently less than 33% of the total today), Republican primaries, on those rare occasions when they did occur, were one-sided affairs as the favorite would coast straight to the general election. Democrats on the other hand, had to engage in an expensive and schismatic intraparty fight through a primary and runoff before facing a fresh and well-financed Republican candidate.
Edwards figured that by making the Republican candidate compete with the Democrats on the same ballot, the open primary could potentially eliminate a GOP candidate from making a runoff while at a minimum making the Republican have to spend his money at the same time so in the case of a Republican-Democrat runoff, both candidates would theoretically start from scratch financially.
Edwards would later come to regret the open primary, which led to a jump in Republican voter registrations and the election of registered Republicans to offices across the state. For his role in the abolition of the closed primary, Edwards would be facetiously known as the Father of the Louisiana GOP.
Edwards’s fears from his turbulent experience in 1971 would finally play out in 2008 as Jefferson entered the general election cash-strapped from two competitive primary races, legal expenses stemming from his corruption trial and suffering from a national Democratic financial blockade on his campaign.
Cao, who was unopposed as the GOP candidate, was able to sit on his limited resources until after the presidential election, which was the same day as the Democratic runoff for the party nod.
Secondly, for whatever reason, the framers of the legislation returning the state to the closed primary in federal races decided to cram the party primaries immediately behind the November general election.
Obviously incumbents reap an advantage from the date positioning since they rarely face significant opposition within their own party while the challenging party might have a divisive scrum between two or more competitive candidates, burdening them with having to unite their side and refill their campaign coffers virtually over night.
Jefferson’s vulnerability due to his trial and the information that has trickled from the investigation made the Democratic primary for all practical purposes an open seat.
The original date of the general election favored Jefferson, since it would be held the same time Obama would be on the ballot, allowing him to ride his party’s presidential candidate’s considerable coattails in the black majority second district.
Jefferson’s problem was that it didn’t seem too certain he would be the person occupying the Democratic Party’s slot on the general election ballot. Jefferson faced six challengers, five of whom possessed either a strong geographic voter base, money and/or name recognition. A low voter turnout primary could be fatal for a scandal-tainted incumbent clinging on to little else than name recognition.
And then Hurricane Gustav saved Jefferson’s political career for the time being. At least for the moment it seemed that way.
The delay in the primaries allowed Jefferson to get what he needed in the primary and would face a white opponent the same day black vote was going to peak while precluding anti-Jefferson Republican voters. Jefferson’s 14-point win against former television newscaster Helena Moreno in November meant there was only one more hurdle to clear before being freed up to concentrate his energies on his trial (rebuilding New Orleans de damned!).
When the machines closed on December 6th, Cao received more votes than Jefferson, though the Republican did not receive a majority but a plurality of 49.5%. Under the open primary rule (and that of Georgia’s closed primary/general election), there would be yet another election. Thanks to the closed primary, New Orleans now as a Republican congressman.
It should also be noted that Green Party candidate Malik Rahim 2.8%, which was in excess of the margin between Cao and Jefferson, so it would seem that the Nader Raiders had struck again though I don’t think mainstream Democrats will complain much this time.
Had the election schedule not been altered, there is a good chance would have won Moreno her party’s nomination and would have scored no worse than 75% against Cao on the same day John McCain garnered an anemic 19% in Orleans Parish. How ironic that Hurricane Gustav, the same storm that pushed back the congressional primaries and pushed storm water into Cao’s home in New Orleans East in September would also sweep him into Congress in December.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cao, Fleming to Win?!

Cao, Fleming to Win

Based upon turnout in tracked precincts in northwest Louisiana and New Orleans –west Jefferson, Republican congressional candidates Dr. John Fleming and Anh Cao are going to win their elections.

Fleming’s win would retain the Shreveport seat for the GOP while Cao’s victory would mark the first Republican victory in the Second District since the late 19th century. Future Republican governor Dave Treen had come close in 1968 to winning the seat then-held by Democratic Majority Leader Hale Boggs.

The Cao win would also be historic as he would be the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress. Even more remarkable is that the district is majority black, though displacement from Hurricane Katrina and depressed turnout due to the incumbent’s legal troubles has hampered Bill Jefferson’s chances. Jefferson won renomination in a competitive runoff in November.
Cao, whose home flooded in Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav, had run for the Louisiana legislature in 2007, running fifth in a field of five candidates for the District 103 House of Representatives seat.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Ending the Embarrassment of Bill Jefferson on Saturday

Pardon me as I promulgate some political absolutes that will doubtlessly rankle a few folks.
If you vote for Bill Jefferson on Saturday you are one of the following:
1) Racist.
2) Stupid.
3) Crooked.
4) A relative of the embattled congressman
5) All of the above.
If you are a resident in the Second Congressional District and decide to not
participate in the general election you are at least one of the following:
1) Lazy.
2) Apathetic to Louisiana’s recovery from the 2005 storm season.
3) Stupid.
4) One of the candidates that thought Jefferson was terrible enough to challenge in an election but are too self-serving to speak out in the general election and are thus not an individual to be trusted as a sincere agent of reform.
If you plan on casting your vote for the Green Party candidate, you’re
delusional and are in effect punting on the task of eradicating the ethical stench that hinders the Louisiana delegation’s ability to secure the maximum level of support from Washington for building better flood protection and helping change Louisiana’s image for the better.
If people in the New Orleans area are truly sick of our bad reputation in politics, then they should do something about it on December 6th by voting for Joseph Cao for Congress.
Yes, I know the district is predominantly black and thus heavily Democrat and probably heavily pro-Jefferson, if his 2006 landslide win over State Representative Karen Carter is to be considered a barometer of the indicted congressman’s popularity.
But it doesn’t matter what Cao’s chances are; to accept what is perceived to be the inevitable and do nothing would make you complicit in maintaining politics as usual in south Louisiana.
Whatever value Jefferson had in Congress through his seniority was washed away after the indictments. He is persona non grata within his own party’s leadership circle. He is in effect an empty chair during a time when New Orleans desperately needs an advocate on Capitol Hill.
If you are a hard core Democrat that takes pride in boasting that you’ve never voted for a Republican, look at Cao’s candidacy this way: if the Republican wins the seat, he would eliminate a Democratic embarrassment while almost assuredly taking the seat back in 2010 (see former Illinois Republican Congressman Michael Patrick Flanagan). Furthermore, because the Democrats expanded their majority in the House in 2008, Cao’s election in no way would jeopardize Democratic control.
If Cao does get sent to Washington, he’d be wise to rent, not buy. And I’m pretty sure he understands that. But thanks to the closed primary and the political realities that made Jefferson’s renomination as the Democratic candidate a virtual lock, the only chance of stopping Jefferson became the general election when thousands of Republican voters would be allowed to cast a ballot.
And while I am aware that I also painted a rosy picture for John McCain before he got stomped by Barack Obama, I do believe Cao has a shot at pulling out a historic upset.
In 2006, Jefferson defeated his runoff opponent 57% to 43%. Keep in mind that Sheriff Harry Lee, who was immensely popular on the west bank of Jefferson Parish, urged voters to sit the election out because of Carter’s criticism of police for blocking stranded Orleans Parish evacuees from entering Jefferson Parish after Hurricane Katrina. Congressman Jefferson was also aided by then-State Senator Derrick Shepherd’s endorsement, which was significant as Shepherd had polled first in Jefferson Parish balloting.
Two years later, more details about the Jefferson investigation have emerged, and Harry Lee has received his heavenly reward while Shepherd got his earthly one.
Jefferson did no better last month than he did in the open election in 2006 despite that in 2008 he competed within the friendly confines of a Democratic primary on the same day as a presidential race that caused a spike in black turnout that was further indirectly assisted by a well-funded Democratic US Senator’s re-election GOTV operation.
Furthermore, the results from the recent landslide Republican victory in Georgia’s US Senate December runoff indicate that the same people that were giddy for Obama are now sated while Republican voters are hungry.
Jefferson cannot expect to inherit the same voters that pushed him over Moreno in November nor should he expect to receive much support from Democrats who backed Moreno in the runoff, which includes quite a few black voters for whom concern over the Jefferson family’s political shenanigans trump race.
Admittedly the election of a non-traditional Republican candidate in one of the most Democratic congressional districts in the nation would be a major propaganda coup for the GOP. But the real winners would be the people of Louisiana by removing the tainted incumbent from office before the Justice Department possibly saves the Second District electorate from themselves.
Mike Bayham is a political consultant in south Louisiana and he posts his weekly column on mikebayham.blogspot.com. He can be reached at MikeBayham@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rebuilding a Broken Party

Rebuilding a Broken Party

Republican presidential nominee John McCain trailed his Democratic opponent by 6.3 million votes, the biggest popular vote deficit for a GOP candidate since the man he succeeded in the US Senate got blown out in 1964.
And if to add an asterisk insult to an exclamation point of an injury, Barack Obama carried Nebraska’s Second Congressional District, meaning that the president-elect snatched up an extra electoral vote from one of the reddest states in America thanks to their electoral vote allocation rules. At least Bob Dole was able to sweep the Cornhusker State in its entirety.
If it’s possible for a Republican to put this election in a better perspective, then one could look at the popular vote margin in the swing states that represented the electoral votes McCain needed to win.
The combined popular vote total for the margins in New Hampshire, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Colorado was under 1,000,000 votes (approximately 972,640), assuming Missouri’s electoral votes are allocated to McCain at the end of the day.
But even such sunny spin is in great contrast to the 1976 GOP defeat as Gerald Ford’s popular vote margin that turned the Electoral College against him was less than 19,000 votes (11,116 in Ohio and 7,372 in Hawaii).
So in light of the thrashing the GOP took at the polls, here’s the upside:
1) John McCain has left the podium: Many Republicans early on refused to embrace McCain’s candidacy under any circumstances. McCain did a heck of a job proving his GOP detractors right on the money. The party no longer tethered to McCain’s media pandering that is not reflective of the sentiments of the party base. Tackling illegal immigration can finally reemerge as a political priority for the GOP.
2) The RINOs finally “out” themselves: Somewhere in heaven Jesse Helms is having one hell of a laugh. Remember former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, who during the nineties was the party’s most prominent supporter of gay marriage and abortion? What about Lincoln Chafee, the least reliable Republican in the senate caucus yet his own party squandered hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars to salvage his political career. Then there is former Congressman Jim Leach of Iowa, who famously (at least for political junkies) refused to vote for Newt Gingrich’s re-election as speaker in 1997 and instead voted for former Republican House Minority Leader Bob Michel. What do all of these progressive Republicans have in common? They all turned their back on one of their own moderates and endorsed Obama, the most liberal candidate ever nominated by the Democratic Party. Their example shows exactly why the “country club” wing of the GOP cannot be entrusted with the reins of party leadership. EVER!
3) The end of the line for the Bush Dynasty: George W. Bush ascended as the party nominee in 2000 despite longstanding resentment by conservative towards his father (the feeling was mutual) and the lackluster re-election campaign he waged in 1992. Fortunately for the then-Texas governor, Republicans were hungry for victory and were willing to entrust the future of the party to Dubya. After achieving astronomically high ratings as president after 9-11 and helping the GOP win congressional elections in 2002 and 2004, President Bush seemed to give up making any effective public relations effort for his administration, policies and party after Hurricane Katrina. In addition to contributing towards the wrecking McCain’s candidacy, the current president has virtually eliminated any chance Jeb ever had of being nominated. Probably ruined it for George P. as well. Not much gnashing of teeth on this count outside of Kennebunkport.
4) The opportunity to rebuild: Finally, the Republican Party leadership has the chance to re-emerge from the shadow of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to install leadership not beholden to a single politician. As a rule, the president names his choice for head of the national party with the assembled national committeemen and women and state chairmen relegated as a mere rubber-stamp to make it official. Without an administration leaning on the state party leaders, they are now free to do the work of rebuilding a party and not simply appeasing the whims of a president. The GOP now has the freedom to be conservative and not chained to an unpopular agenda.
Members of the Republican National Committee would be wise to elect former
Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele as the new general chairman. And no, I am not for Steele just because he’s black.
The party has a major image problem in large part because how the White House was lethargic in its image building since 2005. Steele would represent not only a change in style but in experience as a former county and state chairman, statewide elected official and candidate for US Senate. In other words, he’s been in the trenches.
If the party is serious about making a play for the youth vote (Steele was the Young Republican pick for veep in 2008), it is necessary to have an articulate person representing the party and not have a haggard functionary that is charismatically challenged as the face of the party. After all, we already have that fronting for the GOP in Congress.
Mike Bayham is a political consultant in south Louisiana. His column is posted at mikebayham.blogspot.com and he can be reached at MikeBayham@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Open Letter to the National Young Republicans

An Open Letter to the YRNF

Dear Fellow Young Republicans:

Please indulge me for a few minutes as I express my opinions on several matters that were to be considered this past weekend at the national Young Republican board meeting in Nashville.

Let me preface this list of grievances by saying that in my eight years of attending YR national board meetings, I have never left a meeting with such a profound sense of disappointment.

The Young Republicans, always craving for the recognition from senior party folks for our toil and efforts in the trenches blew a chance to “get the brand out” by being one of the first party organizations in the country to express our support for our vilified nominee for vice-president.

If it wasn’t bad enough that the media, entertainment industry and the other party engaged in a merciless smear campaign against Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, there was our party establishment giddily joining the mob pelting her with unsubstantiated attacks upon her character and ability as aides to our presidential nominee couldn’t help getting in on the act before the election. You’d think self-interest alone would prevent them from committing acts of self-immolation, but the McCain campaign from the beginning had defied all logic.

In my time in the national YRs, our party’s nominee for president has never addressed us. I doubt there are any Texas YRs still involved that can recall the last time then-Governor George W. Bush paid a visit to one of their local or state meetings. During the past eight years not a single cabinet-level official dropped by a national convention, YRLC or a national board meeting. When I attended Close-Up while in high school my group at least scored an audience with the Surgeon General. Unless you count those presidential “fill-in-the-organization-blank” video tapes we USED to get at our meetings, the best we’ve had was a brief group photo op with Vice-President Dick Cheney arranged by then-chairwoman Dee Dee Benkie. We were not allowed to speak with the vice-president, shake his hand or have any contact with him during the seconds he spared.

Yet the YRNF had an opportunity to score some points with a young woman who will remain a major figure in our party for the foreseeable future. Perhaps she would have even dropped by an event to thank us for doing what other higher-level Republicans have not, though if she ended up joining the crowded ranks of party leaders that eschewed us I could not blame her.

So why did the YRNF blow it? Subterfuge by YRs turned off by her social conservativism under the guise of “pc-ing” my resolution to give props to a man who may have been a decent president but who was wholly unfit to be a presidential candidate and those contrarians who only derive a sense of accomplishment when they vote something down.

We blew an opportunity to help play a role in molding the future of our national party and showing some appreciation for past service by expressing kind words and encouragement for Michael Steele’s candidacy for chairman of the Republican National Committee. Mindful of our rules, I crafted that resolution so it stopped well short of officially backing him for the post. Furthermore, to give this organization even more wiggle room, I even used the term “general chairman” so as to allow to the election of someone else to handle the actual operation of the RNC and thus making Mr. Steele, an eloquent man who understands party building and what it’s like to be a candidate for office, the de facto spokesman for our party. It should be noted that of all of the national figures in our party that has participated in national YR functions, Mr. Steele has the record as he has addressed our group twice. I am of the opinion that the adoption of the resolution I presented would have not only helped Mr. Steele but also help put us on the map and register our displeasure with the way our party has been run into the ground over the past few years.

Why was the Steele resolution scuttled? Because of parochial favoritism by some our own leaders shilling for chairman candidates from their own state. Ostensibly it would have conflicted with our rules, though with the wording I employed it would not have been unreasonable to say that it was not in conflict. But instead of choosing to back up someone who has supported us and would make a great RNC leader, we decided to be like our party’s presidential nominee and sink with a rule interpretation.

Instead of making a bold statement, a weak resolution that that will be ignored and justly disregarded by party leaders. Petitions are a dime a dozen these days and most officials of both the elected and party variety disregard them unless they are recall petitions. I won’t take it personal if Mr. Steele doesn’t spend as much time with us in the future as he had in the past no matter what office he has.

And if endorsements are so scary, then why has this organization sanctioned three straw polls (two for president and one for vice-president)? Could that not be considered an endorsement? Is there not a greater risk in snubbing a potential president as opposed to a potential party functionary?

And speaking of rules, funny how some rules are strictly adhered to while others are thrown out by convenience. It seems our friends in Puerto Rico were chomping at the bit to officially receive their convention yet the site selection committee could not muster a quorum at the Nashville board meeting. Previous leaders recognized this possibility in the past and they appointed an alternate member to help in such scenarios. Chairwoman Jessica Colon appointed me to the post yet the leadership of the Site Selection Committee did not send me a single communication concerning meetings of the committee or information about the proposed host city. Recognizing that individuals were making up their own rules as they went along, I complained to the leadership about this freeze-out. Nothing came of it aside from the fact that Puerto Rico will now have to cross their fingers for quorum (of the site selection committee and the national board) in Orlando. Though I was not privy to the details of their bid, I could have been brought up to speed quickly at the Nashville meeting (having previously won a convention bid in 2000 and then later served on the committee, I knew what questions to ask without having to sit on a beach drinking complementary booze).

And finally there is the upcoming national board meeting in Orlando. Despite the fact the host state was given this meeting many months ago, registration forms were not distributed at either of the last two board meetings. Though Florida YRs were in attendance in Nashville I do not recall a presentation about the board meeting be made.

My reasoning for moving the dates was that since so little has been set in stone with Orlando, I figured that changing things to accommodate two state delegations affected by Mardi Gras was not too great of a request, particularly since two of the organization’s top three officers and the YRNF general counsel reside in “Mardi Gras states”.

Since Mardi Gras is a unique event, I understand that it is difficult for outsiders to comprehend its impact on southern Louisiana and Alabama. Hundreds of thousands of visitors flock our state while almost as many locals flee during that same time, making travel very difficult. Though it is not celebrated on a similar scale in most of the country and isn’t a holiday outside of the central gulfcoast, Mardi Gras is comparable to the Superbowl and I hope planners for future February-March YR national events will keep it in mind. It’s not like one weekend in February would result in drastically different hotel rates than any other February weekend in a hotel mecca like Orlando during the tourism off-season.

In closing, let me ask you a question that others who are no longer involved in the YRs (and not because they aged out) have posed to me: why do you go to these meetings?

Is it to socialize and visit with colleagues from around the country? Is it because you like traveling? Or is it to make a difference? My answer is all three. Gatherings of this sort are supposed to be fun, since that is one of the most compelling motivations to sacrifice the work-vacation time and the personal expense to attend these triannual meetings.

But between the sightseeing and the partying, enough time and patience must be reserved for the actual conduct of business before the national board. After all voting on resolutions is the one opportunity national board member actually have to participate in the meeting as individual leaders bound only to their consciences and not simply be a captive audience listening to reports.

In contrast, though it involves my own committee, constitutional and bylaw amendments have no value in the eyes of the media and the YR membership at-large. We’re never going to make the Washington Times by moving commas around in our bylaws. Can anyone really recall a single instance when a board vote mattered?

By letting frustration from other parts of the meeting boil over during the new business section, the national board cheated itself out of an opportunity to actually do something.

By fearing the consequences of being proactive and allowing the antics of contrarians and those whose politics are personal and not national in depth, I don’t see where we accomplished much in Nashville. So when the next RNC Chairman calls us the “College Republicans” to our faces as two other national party leaders have in the past, that indignity will be on our own hands.


Michael Bayham

Chairman, YRNF Constitution & Bylaws Committee
Vice-Chairman, LYRF

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Palin Gets Sideswiped by the "Straight Talk Hearse"

Attention snot-nosed, children of privilege whose wealthy daddies had to gain your inexperienced, arrogant and unqualified sorry asses jobs with the McCain campaign.
What happened on Tuesday was ALL your fault. Scratch that. Blame should go to your boss too.
Like many Republicans, I took more pride in Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as running mate than I did with US Senator John McCain at the top of the ticket. Why? Because I knew she was fighting for her future, unlike McCain who apparently used the 2008 presidential election to polish his legacy and tack on a final paragraph to his obituary.
The hyper-competitive Palin was chomping at the bit to knock the ball out of the park while McCain was satisfied playing the role of Al Downing, remembered in baseball history only for being the pitcher that gave up Hank Aaron’s record-breaking 715th home run.
In less than 48 hours, McCain aides have thrown Palin under the “Straight Talk Hearse” in an attempt to shift the blame away from the total humiliation they and their sponsor brought upon themselves and the GOP.
Continuing the spirit of this post-election Festivus, here is a sampling of their airing of grievances:

1. Palin didn’t know much about African geography.
2. Palin treated her running mate status as a golden ticket to go crazy at Nieman Marcus and other high-end stores to the tune of $150,000.
3. Palin’s aides fell for a prank call from Canadian radio hosts.
4. After working her heart out and enduring down right mean attacks from the entertainment industry and having her personal life hacked by liberal cyber-goons, Palin had the audacity to want to speak during McCain’s self-delivered eulogy.

My response:

1. You think the old man knows what the capital of Togo is? (It’s Lomé…and yes I needed to consult the Wikipedia to learn that nugget of knowledge)
2. Had the numbskulls (aides and the presidential nominee included) eschewed federal funds, Palin could have really torn it up! Seriously, so what? And supposedly her duds will be donated to charity. At least her shopping sprees didn’t delay people’s flights like Bill Clinton’s pricey haircuts on Air Force One did.
3. That kinds of stuff happens, including to the likes Bill Gates, the Pope, the Queen of England and two presidents of France amongst others. Big deal. It speaks far worse of the CBS Morning Show that they think enough to put the two professional clowns on their program.
4. On this count, the McCainihacks unintentionally did Palin a favor. After all, it’s largely McCain’s fault he had to give a concession speech that night.

John McCain’s candidacy was in the throes of a death rattle when Palin brought
excitement, energy, and a lead in the polls after the Obamapalooza in Denver. The Alaskan would have brought in gobs and gobs of money too had McCain not honored a pledge on public financing Obama had shredded and instead lied to tens of millions of Republicans when he said he would fight to win.
Now I will admit that there were times that I winced when Palin misstated things during interviews and her lone debate with Joe Biden, but whose fault was it that she was not properly prepared for such encounters? Or better yet, realizing she needed more time, who threw her to the media lions before she was ready? Who said she had to sit down with a hostile press on Katie Couric’s terms and not Palin’s own? Though we all know McCain wouldn’t want to risk angering his “base”.
Obama is a gifted orator, i.e. the Pablo Picasso of bullshit artists. Biden has been yammering on and on in the well of the Senate, committee rooms and on Sunday news shows nobody watched or cared about until Tim Russert died for the past thirty years. Yet Palin still ran circles around “Stand Up Chuck”.
And there was nothing, NOTHING, Governor Palin said that hurt the ticket more than McCain’s comment back in 2007 about how economics was not his strong point. As soon as I heard him say those words, I knew they had been immediately catalogued by Democratic operatives and would be replayed ad nauseam at a time of his least convenience.
My question is this: why wasn’t the McCain campaign checking Palin out back in March? I was touting her as the only hope McCain had of winning as early as May. Surely this blogger could not have more political insight than the well-healed pros running a national campaign, right?
Perhaps the professionals working for McCain could have spent time less time chasing DWI records of their own volunteers and more time quietly laying down the groundwork of her candidacy. Why did McCain dither so long about a running mate?
The blame for the worst run Republican presidential campaign since Barry Goldwater’s 1964 “profile in sanctimony” should be squarely affixed on McCain and that pack of jackals he calls aides.
It was McCain who uttered the gem “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.”
It was McCain who chose to handicap his candidacy by foolishly thinking an Obama renege on accepting federal funds would somehow compensate a $400 million plus deficit in campaign money.
It was McCain who behaved like a drama queen prior to the first presidential debate on the financial crisis and then embraced the unpopular bailout and all the pork loaded in it.
And it was McCain who spent the past 9 years antagonizing the GOP base and diluting the differences between himself and the Democrats on immigration, conservative judges and cultural issues.
If John McCain had any class he would immediately call his aides out on what they are doing to a woman who trust him with her name and her political future. Keep in mind this petty conduct towards Palin is nothing new and was happening weeks before the general election.
Sarah Palin has conducted herself with passion, enthusiasm and, amazingly, good humor in the face of the most vicious and demeaning slings against a vice-presidential candidate in American political history from the Democrats, the media and her own party.
Try as the McCainihacks might to salvage their careers at the expense of the Alaska governor’s future, at the end of the day it’ll be Sarah Palin, not John McCain, GOP congressional candidates will be begging to appear at their fundraisers.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Maverick Goes to the Abattoir

The “late” John McCain presidential campaign provided considerable irony, particularly for me personally.
I’ve never disliked a Republican nominee more than McCain yet I’ve never invested more of my time and talent on behalf of any other presidential candidate. Since McCain became the de facto GOP candidate I penned a speech he delivered on WWE’s Monday Night Raw, served as a delegate to the national convention, traveled out of state for grassroots work and spent hours assembling and placing election day signs across my community.
And to top it off, I knelt on the sidewalk outside of a locked church on Tuesday evening and prayed a rosary for victory. All of this for a man whose self-serving political style offended me and campaign I despised.
Obviously, loathing for the opposition motivated me to engage in going above and beyond the norm of volunteerism for McCain. His admirable military service also compensated some for my differences with him, though it should be noted that the electorate for the fifth straight occasion broke against the candidate with the more distinguished personal war record.
With the election now in the history books in bold print, I no longer need to bite my tongue.
National Review Online featured a Byron York article that argued that McCain, or for that matter, any Republican could not win the presidency under the current circumstances. I think Mr. York was being awfully charitable in his evaluation chalking up the McCain disaster as something that would have happened to anybody. I respectfully disagree as McCain virtually had to work hard to lose that big.
In the early days of the 2008 election, I penned a column calling John McCain the second coming of Bob Dole. I later learned that the McCain campaign took great exception to public criticisms of their champion (I’ll return to this at the end). And in light of what has taken place, I suppose an apology is due.
Bob Dole deserves far better than to be so unfairly libeled.
John McCain has the distinction of being the worst Republican presidential candidate since Barry Goldwater. Though Dole won fewer electoral votes than McCain, at least the Kansan kept the GOP electoral base together.
McCain lost states that have been reliably Republican for decades until Tuesday. Indiana hadn’t gone Democrat since Goldwater, a fellow Arizonan. Ditto the Old Dominion state (Virginia). The last time North Carolina went Democrat was when a peanut farmer from the Deep South ran against the Midwesterner that pardoned Nixon.
I’ll concede the times would have been challenging for any individual seeking the White House under the GOP label, between the financial crisis and President George W. Bush’s abysmal approval ratings. But good candidates find ways to overcome. McCain was satisfied with simply frenzied posturing and heralding a brawny fellow that claimed to be interested in the plumbing trade as his own personal Obama/Messiah.
Knowing how tough things would be and Obama’s proven ability to make it rain greenbacks through documented sources and otherwise, McCain stubbornly and stupidly refused to abandon public financing and handed his Democratic opponent a strategic advantage in the face of severely biased media coverage that made Obama ubiquitous and simply ignored McCain on good days.
And it was the campaign finance issue that best summed up McCain’s candidacy. Having spent too much time in the beltway and chumming with reporters (his other base, being the one that actually abandoned him), McCain really thought the voters cared about campaign finance reform. They don’t. They care more about gas prices.
Another example of McCain pulling punches was his refusal to exploit Obama’s relationship to his one-time close family friend and spiritual leader, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
After what was the most remarkable Republican National Convention since the 1988 conclave, McCain miraculously jumped ahead of Obama. The Democrats were panicking and I believe the possibility of switching Joe Biden out with Hillary Clinton was on the table. And then the financial crisis hit and McCain flubbed on two counts.
While Obama shrewdly kept a low profile as congressional leaders and the White House were tackled the details of a bailout package, McCain overreached by trying to dominate the news cycle, engaging in histrionics, canceling public appearances and suspending his campaign. The safe and stable image the public had of McCain in contrast with the wet behind the ears Obama was shattered and his credibility as a fiscal conservative demolished by embracing a bailout the public opposed.
In the eyes of America, McCain appeared erratic and unable to multitask and his numbers, not helped by poor performances in the first two debates, never recovered.
While hobbling down the road to perdition, McCain also avoided delineating the social issue differences between himself and Obama in the same year California voters banned same-sex marriages and allowed his aides to throw Sarah Palin under the bus during the campaign’s waning days
To give you an idea of how small minded the McCain operation was, allow me to share with you now an internal communication that just so happened to fall into my hands a month before the election.
Without my knowledge, I learned that my name had been turned in as a participant in “Future Leaders for McCain”, basically an auxiliary caucus of young professionals that would help get the message out.
It turned out that the McCain staffers had better things to do with their time than campaign in swing states as they attempted to do cursory background checks on all of the names submitted. According to his e-mail, campaign aide Abraham Sisson opposed my association with the group due to unfavorable things I had written in columns about McCain back in 2007.

Here’s the exact text pertaining to me from the “vetting report”:

Below are two red flags for your review. Full report is attached withadditional flags. Caroline, these names conclude the people on thisspreadsheet. Thanks!Mike BayhamIn a blog posting from June of last year, Bayham referred to McCain as "theproud father of the bastard child that is campaign finance reform." In thesame post, Bayham said Sen. McCain has "all the sleekness of Bob Dolewithout his special blue pills."http://www.bayoubuzz.com/News/US/Politics/President_Race_2008/Fred_Thompson_Should_Run_For_President__3917.asp In a blog posting from November of last year, Bayham called Sen. McCain "theconductor of the Straight Talk Funeral Cortege," and "more passionate aboutlegitimizing illegals than he was at confirming conservative jurists."http://ncrepublicans.blogspot.com/2007_11_01_archive.html.

Initially, I found the report highly amusing as it recounted of my rhetorical “sins”, of which I stand by all of them. Unfortunately, Mr. Sisson, who should never have another job in politics, was irresponsibly sending out far more personal stuff about other rejected surrogates, including a reference to one person’s DWI and another’s bench warrant for failing to appear in court with the case number attached.
And thus the essence of John McCain the politician could be best summed up as someone who focused more of his energy on being sanctimonious than achieving victory. In McCain’s mind, this election had little to do with protecting capitalism and constitutional government. It was all about him.
Wrecking the party and endangering America’s future was but a small price to pay in order to give him the opportunity to further exorcise the demons that still haunt McCain from his association with the Keating 5 scandal. He’d rather keep his word to someone who had already broken his on a subject of little concern even if it meant losing the election.
Conservatives needed a fighter to stop the radical agenda of Obama & co. Instead we got stuck with a worn out tackling dummy that had no business running for president.
Mike Bayham is a political consultant in south Louisiana and can be reached at mikebayham@yahoo.com.

The First Day of the Rest of Jindal's Political Life

November 4, 2008.
A great day for President-elect Barack Obama. An important day for presidential candidate-to-be Bobby Jindal.
It is part of the political circle of life that the road to the White House for Louisiana’s ambitious governor began with the demise of John McCain’s presidential dream.
Had McCain won, Jindal would have been relegated to hoping to be tapped as the running mate by Vice-President Sarah Palin in 2012. Sitting vice-presidents might not be invulnerable in general elections, but they are unstoppable in the primaries.
Had the Nixon Administration not suffered a fatal meltdown and if Spiro Agnew had kept his nose clean, not even Ronald Reagan could have prevented Agnew’s nomination in 1976.
The GOP ticket’s landslide defeat does not necessarily mean Palin would be a pushover in 2012. The rough treatment she received from the media made her a martyr in the eyes of stalwarts and her folksy, red meat rhetoric played strong with the base.
Palin proved throughout the general election campaign she could draw crowds and should be credited with that creating that brief sliver of hope the GOP had between the convention and the economic crisis. Now freed from the claustrophobic confines of her Bush-McCain handlers, Palin can spend the next three years appearing at Republican fundraisers and collecting IOUs.
Though Palin and Obama are very different people, both recognize the importance of striking while the iron is hot. Obama parlayed the fame he garnered delivering a single nationally-televised convention speech and an easy Senate victory over a carpetbagger quack GOP candidate into becoming the 44th President of the United States.
The fiercely competitive “Sarah Barracuda” is also aware of her window and should be considered not only a likely candidate for 2012 but also the frontrunner for the Republican nomination.
Thanks to props from conservative icon Rush Limbaugh and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, there is already a Jindal buzz amongst the party faithful. While campaigning for McCain in Virginia last weekend, a resident of the Old Dominion state expressed his hope that Jindal would run for the presidency in four years.
The first decision Jindal must make is whether to seek re-election in 2011.
Since Louisiana elects its state officials on the odd-numbered year prior to a presidential election, Jindal would be hard pressed to wage a gubernatorial campaign during the opening stages of the primaries.
Furthermore, by running for re-election, Jindal would be inviting the concentrated fire of a national Democratic operation that understands the importance of mowing down the other side’s farm team. If you don’t believe me, just ask FORMER US Senator George Allen, who got strangled in his own safety net.
If Jindal opts to bide his time and wait to receive an almost certain invitation to join the 2012 Republican’s ticket, he would still find himself in the same spot then-Texas Governor George W. Bush was in 1998: having to win re-election while also carrying a GOP lieutenant governor and successor over the finish line to prevent a change of party control in his state office as he ascended to the federal level.
Jindal’s endorsement of John Kennedy for US Senator had more value to Jindal himself than Kennedy in the long run. GOP activists tend to hold grudges against candidates who don’t seem Republican enough (see Mitt Romney) and Jindal would have major credibility problems with the party faithful had he not gone up to bat for the state GOP’s congressional candidates. There could not be a repeat of Jindal’s abstinence in the 2007 state legislative runoffs in 2008.
Finally, Jindal needs to be wary of employing absolute statements. The payraise fiasco, though in the end got pinned on Republican legislators, will almost certainly come back to haunt him in the Iowa cornfields.
The governor has already renounced a presidential run in 2012, claiming he has the job he wants and would rather go into the private sector than seek higher office.
Jindal would have better luck getting people to take a two dollar bet that he knows where they got their shoes at.
Rather than adopting yet another untenable extreme posture, Jindal should simply refuse to comment on any political plans not related to his intended run for re-election until after the next federal election, which isn’t until 2010.
In the meantime, he should continue to happily accept his newfound status as an up and coming leader in the GOP by assuming the responsibilities that come with being a star, thus justifying his bid to keep up with Palin in terms of chit collecting.
No matter what Jindal does or intends to do in politics from here on out, he is a marked man. The media, Republican activists and Democratic attack dogs will watch his every move, from the bills he signs (or does not sign) to how many days he spends away from Louisiana (and thus the job he currently holds). The governor will have to accept that November 4, 2008 is the first day of the rest of his political life whether he likes it or not.
Mike Bayham is a political consultant in south Louisiana and can be reached at MikeBayham@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

1st Supreme Court District Race

Based on numbers in so far and projections out of Jefferson Parish, Mike calls the race for Greg Guidry.

PSC District 1 Race Called

Based on vote returns and projections, Mike is calling the race for Eric Skrmetta over John Schwegmann.

Orleans Absentee Ballot Update

Orleans absentees not coming in until late due to 25,000 ballots to be scanned.

Mike calls the US Senate Race

Based on selected absentee results, Mary Landrieu appears to have won reelection.

Obama Breaks Serve - Game Over

ABC News and Fox News have called Ohio for Obama.

If the Kerry/Gore states hold -- and they will -- this gives Obama no less than 284 electoral votes.

The fat lady is singing.

Message From Mike

The question of last three weeks: whether polls reflected true will of White voters Numbers reflect that is the case. Barack Obama is the next President.

Early results:

Absentee results from St. Bernard Parish

58-40 Landrieu (big win)
PSC Schwegmann 57-44 (likely win)
Eric Scarnetta 7% in primary for PSC, now trails Schwegmann with 44%. No blowout.

McCain 71 Obama 26

Bad Sign in NC

With 95% in, Wake County, which includes Raleigh and Cary, is going for Obama by about 40,000 votes -- a 13 point loss. President Bush won it by 2 points in 2004.

Is this the service break that makes it an early night???

More Blue States

ABC News called Upper Midwest (MI, MN, WI) for Obama. No surprise per se, but how quickly they are called is disturbing.

NC Senate race

I guess the "godless" ad didn't work... CNN projecting Hagan winning NC Senate seat.

Liddy Dole can spend more time at the Watergate Hotel again.

Going to be a long night for the GOP Senate.

So much for PA and the Northeast

Fox News called PA for Obama. With MD, DE and DC, that's 117 votes for the Dems in the solid Northeast.

ABC News makes Pennsy call

With 0% of the vote in... ABC News has called PA for Obama. They have Obama up 102-43 with no surprises yet.

Solid Northeast for Dems

Save for Pennsylvania -- and that may play out in the same fashion -- everything north of DC has become untouchable for Republicans. Excluding PA, that's 80 electoral votes given to the Democrats without a fight.

This doesn't even mention ceding the West Coast. The GOP gives up half the votes required for electoral victory. This has to change.

Numbers Coming In

Sean Moronski blogging from Mike's New Jersey bureau not only awaiting news from Mike out in the field, but chiming in on other goings on.

CNN has Obama up 77-34 with no surprises yet.

About a third of the vote counted in Indiana with McCain up 3. Mitch Daniels is projected to win Governor... but... now all of the state's polls are closed. Can't wait to see what comes out of Lake County (Gary).

FOX News calling New Hampshire for Obama. FOX has it at 81-39. More to come...


I am thinking about restarting the "Early Call" tonight so check this site out starting around 7 PM tonight.

Perhaps based upon gross naivete, but here they are:


President: John McCain wins after winning the swing states of New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Nevada. Obama wins the swing state of Colorado.

US Senate: Democrats expand their majority to 58. Joe Lieberman caucuses with GOP out of protest.
Louisiana US Senate: Mary Landrieu with 54%
1st District Congress: "The Mistake by the Lake" with 64% (just kidding Congressman Steve!)
2nd District Dem. Nomination: Bill Jefferson with 56%
6th District: Don Cazyoux by 2 points
Orleans Parish District Attorney: Leon Canizzarro with 56%
State Senator: Polly Thomas 51%
Public Service Commission: John Schwegmann 54%

Hope & Consequences

Hope & Consequences

My body is worn from the run to Virginia to help out McCain over the past weekend; my hands hurt like hell after staking a load of campaign signs for the GOP ticket across my home town; and the media have not helped brighten my spirits with round the clock promulgations of the inevitability of President Barack Obama.
But I still hold out hope.
Why? Well in the absence of an abundance of reassuring empirical evidence supporting the contention that John McCain will benefit from a citizens’ powered upset, I can only cling to the hope (in addition to my guns and Bible) that the Arizonan will somehow triumph in the end.
What’s the point in accepting a possible reality that will either be proven or debunked in a matter of hours? Though former Massachusetts “Republican” Governor Bill Weld must think so, they do not award prizes and ambassadorships to political bandwagoneers. Grousing about the hopelessness of the situation results in no gain. And so I continue to work and spread the word as if it can still make a difference.
And though Karl Rove’s latest projections were gloomy, allow me to shine a light on some glimmers of hope as the hours tick down to the results.
First, this election is unprecedented. There is no model for it and there are no trends to provide tells on what the electorate is likely to really do at the end of the day. For all practical purposes, the media and the public are flying through the clouds without proven radar.
Second, McCain has benefited from momentum over the past few days and is shrewdly spending his day working crowds and basking in the glow of free media.
Third, many national and swing-state poll numbers show sizable undecideds and that Obama’s numbers in swing-states where he does have a lead are either at 50% or below. As the Obama camp, Democratic Party, celebrities and media have more or less implied that a vote for McCain OBVIOUSLY means your racist, many people are reluctant to reveal their vote because of the social pressures and desire to have to defend their logic, whatever it may be.
Finally, I would like to go back to an inaccurate projection I had made earlier this year while covering the New Hampshire primary. The polls at that time showed Obama with a double-digit lead over Hillary Clinton. It appeared the former first lady’s campaign wasn’t going to leave the Granite State.
And don’t let Dixville Notch’s midnight vote give you a scare. I’ve been there before. It’s not a town, it’s a ski resort. And they’ve been on the wrong side of the state vote before. In 2000 they went with Bush while the state went with McCain in the Republican primary. In 2004, they went with Bush while the state went with Kerry in the general election.
Pressure was building for her to drop out the next day. As the polls were so one-sided, even I fell prey and joined the survey-driven chorus projecting an Obama win and what happened? Clinton won the state by two points, a swing of 15 points or more in a single day. I resolved right there I would not take the polling bait again this campaign and thus still hold out hope.

Closing Argument Against Obama

At the risk of angering some of my friends, and I hope you do not take this personally, but I sincerely believe that unless you are either a stalwart Democrat or an ideological level, you’d have to be a complete fool to vote for Barack Obama today.
Obama’s economic policies are all over the place. The same goes for his foreign policies, a sign that this guy is saying just about anything until something seems to stick.
He is neither experienced enough nor prepared to run this country. He is a professional talker that has never accomplished a single landmark achievement in the US Senate. His political rise was because of a speech he gave at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, that’s all.
He didn’t fight in a war, start up a business, make tough executive decisions or do anything remarkable in his actual government service. In other words, he’s no John Kennedy.
Speaking of which, when first-term Texas US Senator Lloyd Bensten sought the presidency in 1976 with only 6 years under his belt, the media mercilessly ridiculed him for having the audacity to attempt such an arrogant jump to the White House in such short order. Obama has only served the first four years of his US Senate term and then has spent much of that time on the presidential campaign trail.
His campaign is based upon hope and change with few specifics (and even those tend to CHANGE) leaving your imagination to fill in the void. For varying reasons people want to believe in this man, none of them grounded in logic. But at the end of the day Obama is not much more than a gifted orator who has “palled” around with some dangerous people, from the theological standpoint (Rev. Jeremiah Wright) to the financial (former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson, who helped pick his running mate) to a former domestic terrorist (Bill Ayers).
We are told that talking about such associations are inappropriate. I ask why? What if McCain had some connection to David Duke at some point in his political career, would that not be brought up? What if the late Enron CEO Kenneth Lay were still alive and serving on McCain’s steering committee, would that be off limits? And what if McCain had dropped by the home of Michael Fortier, who was connected to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh? Would that not be a legitimate concern?
Never has this country been so close to electing a president that the public knows so little about because everything seems to be out of bounds, from discussion of Obama’s birth certificate to his longtime spiritual leader. Why is it not a legitimate question to ask Obama if he is lying about his relationship with Reverend Wright? How could he not know about his sermons? Or is Obama really not a practicing Christian? He’s either lying about one or the other.
And let’s talk about Congress for a moment. This isn’t the same Democratic controlled legislative body that Bill Clinton inherited in 1993. Back then you had southern conservative Democrats and moderate Midwesterners tempering the party. Now you have no more than 5 or 6 such individuals in the Democratic caucus. Since 1994, moderate Democrats have received the Ottoman treatment: forced conversion to the Left (John Murtha, the demise of such a pathetic figure would give me great solace even if Obama won) or driven out of the party or Congress altogether. President Clinton barley got through some of his major legislation in the two years his party controlled both houses; Obama won’t have such obstacles.
Governor Sarah Palin has been the object of great ridicule since appearing on the scene, admittedly committing her fair share of gaffes, as would anyone that has to make the overnight transition from Alaska politics to the national scene. But what about Senator Joe Biden? Here’s a man most known not as Pennsylvania’s “third” senator but as a failed presidential candidate that had to scuttle his 1988 effort because he got busted lifting without credit his material from a British Labour pol. His 2008 bid never left Iowa and he received less votes there than Palin did when she was elected mayor of Wasilla. And what about the ultimate gaffe committed by a vice-presidential candidate? I’m not talking about “Stand up Chuck!” but Biden’s advocacy for dividing Iraq into three countries. In perhaps the most honest thing Biden has said in his entire political career, he predicted that Obama’s election will invite a test; from Russia, China, al Qaeda and others.
President Bush was tested by China with the spy plane crash; the terrorists on 9-11; and in a move he has not received credit for, made stronger relations with Russia an early priority, which helped preempt Kremlin antics until this past summer.
These entities know McCain; they don’t need to provoke him in order to learn how he will react. This is not the case with an Obama Administration, so said his own running mate. Why would anyone invite probably escalation of tensions involving a man whose most substantial foreign policy foray was giving a decidedly unpresidential rock-star speech at Berlin’s Victory Column?
People in America are frustrated, deservingly so. President George W. Bush has worn thin on the nerves of the public. But he is not on the ballot. In what was his most eloquent statement throughout the campaign, McCain called out Obama trying to make this race about a man whose name is not on the ballot. It’s not. It’s about two people who represent the widest philosophical gulf in American presidential politics. Of the two candidates running, only McCain can claim he challenged Bush. We will have change in America no matter who wins. The Bush Presidency will make the transition from being vilified on a full-time basis by the media to academia in a matter of months.
Because of his true ideology, the company he keeps and a servile Democratic Congress, the kind of change Obama will bring to this country will be radical and not what people lulled themselves into hoping for and imagining. There will be drastic buyer’s remorse in short order if he wins.
The populace that lived in Bourbon France under Louis XVI, Tsar Nicholas II’s Russia and the Weimar Republic clamored for change for the sake of change. Anything, they thought was better than the status quo. History has shown that making a radical shift without really knowing where the end might be is unwise and dangerous.
Don’t be taken in by a supreme bullshit artist. Elect John McCain.